FROSTBITE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT
Characteristics of frostbite
Frostbite are skin lesions produced by cold. These injuries are caused by the formation of crystals in the skin or the tissues below it.
Frostbite generally takes parts on this parts of the body which are more exposed to frost (Hands, fingers, ears, feet, toes, noses or legs)
Types of frostbite
– Severe frostbite: Third and fourth grade freezes are considered severe frostbite. They are also known as deep freezes. The third-degree frostbite produces very important and painful blisters and hardening of the skin. You need to protect and treat the affected skin in order not to arrive to a more serious frostbite type.
The most serious frostbite (fourth-degree frostbite) are those that affect the tissue underlying the skin (Muscles, tendons or bones)
This type of frostbite occurs in situations of environmental temperature below zero and can easily occur in people who are exposed for a short period to very low temperatures (hikers, climbers, etc). It also occurs in people who are subjected to cold near freezing for several hours, as homeless in cities or towns, people who sleep in the open or people with major psychiatric problems that are not aware of the danger of being exposed to cold.
In extreme temperatures the body can freeze in minutes or even seconds. This risk occurs in climbers, when environmental conditions change suddenly in the mountain and people do not have time to protect themselves. Many climbers have suffered loss of fingers or toes, ears or nose as a result of this phenomenon. The major freezes may even cause the loss of arms or legs. On foot runners or bicycle riders sometimes penis freeze can occur.
Some people who are on risk to suffer such type of freezing are alcoholic people by the fact that the effects of alcohol decreases the sensation of cold and, at the same time, facilitates freezing, because alcohol decreases the peripheral blood supply which increases the chances of suffering the effects of cold.
Severe frostbite can produce nerve and flesh deterioration. Affected parts become pale, changing into purple and, finally, into black. This type of frostbite is responsible in many cases of amputation of frozen limbs to prevent these to become gangrened.
– Mild frostbite: It is considered as so when frostbite does not affect the underlying tissue. In this type of freezing the skin heals when given the appropriate treatment.
Symptoms of frostbite
The main symptoms of mild frostbite are: skin reddening, pale skin, tingling, burning sensation and pain in thawing.
The main symptoms of severe frostbite are: numbness in the skin, thick and stiff skin, very white skin, blackened and dead tissue, possibility of gangrene. Blue or purple skin in thawing.
Causes of frostbite
The cause which produces freezing is exposure to cold. However, there are a number of factors that can promote freezing. These are:
– Wind: Wind increases the sensation of cold, by enhancing irradiation (body heat loss) which facilitates the freezing of exposed members. A temperature above the freezing point can cause important frostbite when there is wind.
– Humidity: The evaporation of moisture from the skin absorbs heat and makes the body more vulnerable from the cold outside. A wet body, soaked clothes or damp hair can foster body freezing.
– Alcohol and tobacco: Tobacco and alcohol decrease the blood flow in the periphery so that the body is less able to defend against cold and may become frozen more easily.
– Circulatory diseases. Some physical illnesses in which blood vessels are affected by poor circulation facilitate body freezing. Among all these diseases we especially include: diabetes or Raynaud’s disease
Diagnosis and treatment of frostbite
Given the symptoms of severe frostbite or when light freezing does not apparently improve with the application of heat, medical attention is immediately needed.
You should also visit the doctor in case of worsening of the areas subject to freezing. (Suppuration, color change, dizziness, fever, vomiting or malaise)
The natural treatment of frostbite involves using a series of natural resources that can help prevent their occurrence or that are capable of curing it.
More information about frostbite and its natural treatment.